A/N: This story jumps around a bit, time-wise. It might be an idea to take notice of the dates, but if this proves too complicated or doesn't work out, I'm going to re-draft the entire thing.
January 8th 1999
The grass underfoot was a sodden shade of black, except for where the lush moonlight touched it and turned it to silver.
Peter knew his path through the haphazard gravestones by heart and lurched onwards with drunken purposefulness. The bottle he clutched was half full of a liquid as thick as blood and sweet as plums, heady with alcohol. Peter intended to finish it before the night was through. AJ could have some, too.
As he did on most nights like this, Peter settled himself with his back resting against AJ's damp, stony-smelling tombstone and looked out towards the woods that lined the edges of the graveyard. The stars above stared back at him, like tiny needle-points glinting in the sky. Judging him.
"You be quiet," Peter told the stars, moving his Doc Martens apart and pouring a smattering of red wine onto the soil of AJ's grave. It soaked into the ground like blood. "Enjoy, you poor dead fucker."
And then Peter reached into his bag and pulled out a dog-eared, heavily-annotated book. The page was bookmarked with a tattered music shop receipt; Peter wondered how many other people had £2,000 guitar receipts lying around.
"Broken is the golden bowl," Peter read aloud, "the spirit flown forever, let the bells toll – a saintly soul-"
"Oi," cut in a voice, making Peter look up. He knew who he thought the voice belonged to, but he didn't believe in that, did he? The graveyard was deserted, damp with rain and silence.
"A saintly soul," read Peter, shifting against the wet grass pressing into his arse, "flows up the Stygian river,
And Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear-"
"Oi," said AJ again, and there was no mistaking it this time, "if you read me that fucking poem one more time…"
Peter jumped to his feet, heart pounding in his chest, blood rushing. And suddenly he was face to face with his dead best friend, his bandmate, staring into those muddy grey eyes (murky, like the Thames on a misty day). And there it was, there was the jarringly familiar tinkle of the bleached-white fang hanging from AJ's earlobe on its metal fastening.
AJ – or his ghost, Peter wasn't yet clear on this – waited patiently for an answer.
"But…" said Peter. "I thought you liked Poe?"
"And… You're dead."
A pause, a beat-long pause.
"Tell me about it."
AJ had never looked better than he did now. His skin, his hair, his expression… Peter thought about that. Was this a stupid, achingly cruel trick his mind was playing on him? Was this a dream brought on by wine sweeter than sugar, wine distilled with nectarines and scented with honey? Maybe he would wake up slumped against the headstone with no best friend, no AJ, and his heart broken anew.
"I think," AJ said after a second, "that I'm stuck here."
Peter blinked. "At the graveyard."
"No… No. Here. In general." He gestured wildly. AJ was theatrical.
"I see. Why?"
AJ cracked a smile, a smile Peter had missed so much that a sea of salt sadness had built behind the dam of his chest. And now the dam broke, letting all the desperate pain of losing AJ pour out. As Peter cried, the ghost looked at the floor. He knew better than to reach out and try to touch Peter.
"I don't know why," AJ said, with that wry smile. "Unfinished business, maybe? That's usually it, in films and things at least. Things left unsaid. Mysteries left unsolved. Taxes left unpaid."
"You probably just left the oven on, you stupid fuck," Peter choked out.
An odd expression dawned on AJ's face. "I did, actually. But no, that's not it."